A Soggy Oxford Half Marathon
I decided to enter ballots for both the Royal Parks and the Oxford Half Marathon to increase my chance of getting a place in a half marathon after the Great North Run. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a spot in the Royal Parks half marathon. However, I was pleased to secure entry into the Oxford Half instead.
Oxford is a beautiful city with a lot of history. It is predominately known for having a leading University said to be the second-oldest university in the world.
When registering for the event, you could opt to receive the bib in the post or pick it up from the race village. I chose to pick my bib number up the day before the race – I am not exactly sure why! It meant I had to drive there and back when I could have just stayed at home. It wasn’t so far to go from High Wycombe. Plus, it gave me a chance to find my bearings and have a little recce.
I was meeting with family after the race for a Sunday lunch. Therefore, I parked my car near to the lunch destination in Wolvercote, North of Oxford city centre. I called a taxi to drop me into the centre as near to the race start as possible. Most people would be using the various park and ride services and bag drop at the race village, which I am sure, were very busy. I didn’t bother using the bag drop as I could leave my items in my car. Before heading to the starting pens, I took refuge in Starbucks as it was raining quite heavily.
The route and recap
The weather was miserable. Many runners sported the classic bin bag look to keep themselves dry. Those who assembled at the race village had about a 10-15 minute walk to get to the start areas. Lining up with the other participants, I bumped into two fellow runners from my local running club, one of which was a pacer for 2 hours.
Eventually, the start of the race got underway. Off we went, following the flat route that gradually weaved its way away from the centre.
Despite the heavy rain, there was a satisfying amount of crowd support at the beginning sections of the route. The course took you past the ancient colleges, chapels and other buildings. I didn’t really take the surroundings in. Perhaps it was because of the weather…I had my headphones in my ears and was just concentrating on keeping going.
When the race went through a part of the city called ‘Summertown’, ironically the heavens opened. It absolutely poured down. Stair rods were an understatement – I was thoroughly soaked. This was the worst rain I have ever run in!
A runner in front of me darted off to a nearby coffee shop. I am not sure why? A toilet stop, perhaps to get out of the rain or to give up! Subsequently, after seeing him leave the run, I had a moment of mental negativity and felt like quitting. I quickly pulled myself together and pushed on.
In some places, the rainfall had made sections of water flow like mini streams across the road. In other areas, water formed ponds which were unavoidable. My feet and shoes were now absolutely sodden, as well as my soaked clothing. At this point, I wished I was able to run faster so I could get the run over and done.
The weather eventually cleared up towards the latter stages of the race. The route headed back into the city centre, where again the crowd support was fantastic – this kept all us runners going! I briefly paused to see family giving ‘high fives’ to my little nieces before proceeding to the finish line.
In spite of the weather, the race didn’t feel like it really dragged on. Throughout the course there were plenty of music stations to liven the atmosphere, at every mile, I believe. I didn’t pay that much attention as I had my headphones in throughout the race. My music was a welcome distraction in all that rain.
After crossing the line, you were given a lovely medal and funnelled away from the finish line. To collect the goody bag and T-shirt, one had to head to the race village a little walk away. I do feel it would have been better to give out the goody bags and t-shirts closer to the finish. Of course, I do understand, the idea is to move the people away from the finish to avoid congestion. Also, most runners would need to go back to the village to collect their bag etc.
The goody bag was reasonable, nothing special. It contained a technical t-shirt, which was small in size, snack bars, a beer, eyeliner and some dry spray hair shampoo, both of which I gave to my sister.
After the race, I met up with my family. We all then headed to the pub for a lovely Sunday lunch and afternoon before heading home.
It’s quite a hard race to rate due to the rain and because I wasn’t really paying attention to the surroundings. However, I’m sure if the weather were better the crowd support would have been too. And of course, the race village wouldn’t have been so muddy and the day not such a washout.
I finished with a time of 02:39:36.
I am going to give the Oxford Half Marathon a rating of 4 out of 5 on the Runiversity of life™ Runometer™ which I believe is a fair reflection on what the race has to offer.
Route and elevation profile
Check out my other races and parkrun recaps and reviews.
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